Climate-Ready Trees

Climate-Ready Trees for Albuquerque

New Mexico Privet. Photo: Flikr/J.N.Stuart

Trees are critical in our urban environment to mitigate some of the effects of climate change; they sequester carbon, provide cooling shade, and support life for all animals, including us. And on top of all that, trees are beautiful. But now they need our serious attention. Our tallest trees are referred to as our canopy. Along the bosque, the canopy tree is the Cottonwood and throughout the rest of Albuquerque, our canopy tree is the Siberian Elm. These canopy trees are decreasing due to drought, aging, and disease and now have many dead limbs. It is estimated that 30% of the canopy will be gone in the next ten years, and we are not planting enough trees to meet that decline. Even many of our “native” trees will not survive with climate change. Albuquerque has not had a tree planting campaign since the Siberian Elms were planted nearly 100 years ago.

ClimateReadyTrees: Tree Species Selection Guidelines for the Albuquerque Metro Area was published in 2020 by The Nature Conservancy. Drawing on local and international experts, the publication is informative and well written. The third chapter gives examples of seven types of planting environments one might find in the mid Rio Grande and suggestions on how to plant various species in those conditions. Appendix A lists all the species thought to be able to withstand both the heat and spotty rainfall predicted over the next 100 years. So how do we get to work?

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